What Is Teeth Grinding?
Teeth grinding, technically called bruxism, occurs when a patient forcefully clenches his teeth together during sleep. Sometimes this is audible and makes a grating sound. Other times it is more subtle and silent. Either situation carries the potential for problems. While many people do this on an occasional basis with no damage done, some patients develop a habit of grinding until there is damage to the teeth or jaw. This can develop into other health complications over time. A big part of the problem is that people are often unaware that they have this problem because it usually happens during their sleep. It does, however, occasionally happen while the patient is awake.
What Problems Can Bruxism Produce?
While it is possible that teeth grinding may produce no problems for some patients, it can also become serious for others. A habitual problem with teeth grinding can eventually produces some serious dental complications. These complications can include loose teeth, fractured teeth, or even the eventual loss of teeth. If this situation is not dealt with, teeth grinding can wear down teeth until dental procedures are required. The procedures can include dental implants, crowns, bridges, root canals, or dentures. In some cases, teeth grinding can damage the jawbone. Teeth grinding has even been known to bring about a loss of hearing, cosmetic changes in the appearance of the patient’s face, and difficulties for the temporomandibular joint (the joining of jaw to skull).
Why Do I Grind My Teeth While I Sleep?
There are several possibilities when it comes to contributing factors for bruxism. Children may grind their teeth do to an infection or a cold. Sometimes teeth grinding can be attributed to the pain that comes with teething or an earache. For adults, stress and anxiety are often contributing factors. In some cases, an abnormality in bite or teeth alignment can be a factor.
How Can I Stop Grinding My Teeth?
While it is important to diagnose and address any root problems such as stress, earaches, or misaligned teeth, it is also important to stop the grinding while these problems are being addressed. A common solution is the use of a night guard which protects your teeth while you sleep. Your dentist can custom fit a mouth guard for you.